In the past when I thought Subaru, I would reference my memories of my quirky neighbors in the 80s who drove a spaceship-looking two-door Subaru. Twenty years later, I realize the same quirky crowd still flocks to Subaru, but apparently that crowd has grown with the 200,000 plus cars sold last year. So quirky or not, Subaru was still selling despite the automobile manufacture crash and burn of 2009.
This marks the fifth generation of the Legacy, which received a complete redesign for 2010 as Subaru’s mid-size, but does it really improve the love? Because it’s been a struggle to remotely even feel anything that slightly resembles love when it came to writing this review.
The Legacy comes in eight different trims starting at $19,995 to $29,995 not including options. Each Legacy comes equipped with the norm such as ABS, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and the only car in this class to offer AWD standard. Legacy also earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick for it’s ring-shaped reinforced frame that includes Subaru’s advanced frontal air bag system, side curtain air bags and front seat side-impact air bags. To date, the NTSHA has yet to release their rating. The Legacy comes standard with a 2.5-liter SOHC 170-hp engine with the optional 2.5-liter DOHC turbocharged 265-hp or the 3.6 liter DOHC 256-hp– all of which earn the Boxer status. Our GT version came with the 2.5 turbocharged Boxer engine along with a 6-speed manual transmission, option package ’08 and the Sirius Satellite kit topping out at $34,146.
The Legacy did not fail to provide silly grins as the gas pedal was mashed into the floor with the whistling of the turbo. Sadly, the 6-speed manual transmission did not provide the enthusiasm it needed in order to be the perfect match with the turbocharged delight. The transmission felt like how a 14-year-old, 6-foot-4-inch boy appears– lanky and out of place. The Legacy’s handling along with the AWD and turbocharged engine made for a responsive suspension that handled very well. If the transmission could just get in tune with the power and handling, I was starting to think that the Legacy could be a packaged performance bargain for under $35,000 as an alternate to its upgraded German same size class competition.
Exterior wise, the redesigned Legacy appears fuller and not so boxy as its predecessor but in comparison to the previous models, the exterior took on an even more common look. Dare I say the Legacy had once resembled a former Camry but now it seems to lean more towards the last generation Mazda 6. I actually liked the previous version better then the current only because it wasn’t so rounded and puffy. Our 2.5GT Limited version came equipped with a hood scoop look to be borrowed from the Subaru stock pile making the Legacy appear to be a beefier WRX. The 2010 version does have extra interior space for a total of 103 cubic feet thanks to those rounded and smoothed out areas, making this a mid-size that can actually transport three adults in the back seat without whoever gets stuck in the middle feeling as if they’re four years old.
I found nothing superb about the design or the quality of materials used on the Legacy’s interior; it was all extremely average. The leather along with the dual heated seats did come in handy on one of our unusually cold mornings here but with the GT package the seats should offer more of a sportier feel then they did. Despite the 60/40 rear seat and now wider rear doors, do not be prepared to pack too much into the trunk. The trunk lid opens rather low and is prepared to nail you in the forehead if you are over a certain height, so beware. Not to leave out the fact that the opening does not provide many options for stuffing large flat packaged boxes that one just might acquire while on a trip to a certain local Swedish store.
The instrument cluster was basic but easy to read despite the annoying, ever-fluctuating gas mileage gauge. It annoyed me with the fact it it did not specify what the mpg was. If there is going to be a gauge even for this purpose, shouldn’t it be one that tells exactly what you are getting like most cars already do?
The upgraded Harman/Kardon 440-watt audio system provided enough for my boys to enthusiastically get their “gotta get that” groove on while riding in the backseat. The only feature the radio lacks is the auxilary jack for the now common mp3 accessory we all have. The audio controls located via fingertips on the steering wheel were nice, but my biggest annoyance with the car is the now in demand technologically advanced touch screen that happens to control everything.
Okay, so there was a calender to program important events that you would need your car to remind you of or that handy dandy calculator available at just a touch of your index finger, but working the GPS or changing the damn radio station was completely ridiculous. I am technically savvy, and have no other problems figuring out an array of common devices used on a daily basis, but getting into the Legacy made me feel as if I was completely incompetent. On Day Three of having the car, the home screen became stuck on the language selection screen and even with the time spent reading the owners manual and repeatedly selecting English there was no reversing it back to what it had been before. Despite the ever so clever rear vision camera that comes along with the upgrade the only thing it reminded me was that we have been driving for how long now without the assistance of a camera in a car this size, so why is it necessary now?
I just found it quite silly for a car this size. The one time I actually plug an address into the GPS, which thankfully I knew where I was going, it had me going on a goose chase around town. After reaching the destination and restarting the car, I was unable to clear the destination and to avoid hearing the annoying voice of the GPS giving a constant reminder to make a u-turn. By the way, this all comes with a price tag of $2995. Add to the package a sunroof that when open (between the overbearing wind noise and the feeling of being sucked out of the opening) makes you want to keep it closed despite the fact that you did in fact pay extra for a feature you cannot even use at speeds over 25 mph.
Overall, I am completely underwhelmed with Legacy. Based on the sticker price, I was expecting to be wooed but instead I am left asking, is that it? For a class full of plenty of other delightful options, Subaru has done nothing spectacular to catch the eye of this less than quirky driver.
Photos by Joanna Cifrian